In planning for 3,257 new housing units in the next eight years, Burlingame is looking around transit areas and other pockets where redevelopment is more likely.
One targeted area is the North Rollins Road area south of Millbrae Avenue. A specific plan for the area launched in June 2020 with a vision of around 1,200 housing units while retaining its industrial roots and commercial spaces. Focusing new development near transit areas is a city goal derived from community outreach, Community Development Director Kevin Gardiner said.
“The North Rollins Road area is near the transit area and the strategy was to identify older buildings that are more likely to be redeveloped,” Gardiner said. “Once a building is around 50 years old, property owners are more likely to either do improvements or tear it down and redevelop.”
The efforts are all part of the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation with an eight-year goal to address the region’s jobs-housing imbalance. Of the 3,257 units for which it needs to plan, the city will need to accommodate 1,360 low- to extremely-low-income housing units, according to the city’s housing element draft. It does not have to build the housing, but must offer building and zoning opportunities.
In 2022, Burlingame’s goal to provide 276 housing units for very-low income households, or those making less than 50% of the area median income, fell short when it only permitted 82 units. Comparatively, it planned for 288 above-moderate income, or households making 120% or over the area median income, and permitted 1,303 units, which Gardiner presented during the City Council’s March 6 meeting.
After the meeting, Gardiner said the city understands it has more work to do regarding lower income housing and is hopeful the life-science developments along the Bayfront will help the city accumulate more money through commercial linkage fees so the city can subsidize more affordable housing projects.
“It is difficult to build those types of low-income housing units without subsidies,” Gardiner said. “The promising thing is, as we collect commercial linkage fees ... my thought is that the focus going forward will be to prioritize the use of those housing funds.”
The city has approximately $8.7 million in its housing fund and if the life-science projects along the Bayfront are approved that number could rise to $62 million.
The city formed Housing, Opportunity, Priorities and Education, which is a community advisory committee to discuss and prioritize the use of the housing funds. HOPE provides recommendations to the City Council on how to best use housing funds.
“A big part of HOPE is accountability, but it’s a committee put together to provide recommendations on how best to use the housing funds. We want to have a plan in place and, when opportunities happen, then we can jump on it and make it easier to move quickly,” Gardiner said.
The city already put $1.4 million, a fairly reasonable amount, according to Gardiner, to close a financial gap at Eucalyptus Grove Apartments located at 1875 California Drive. Being built by Allied Development of Fremont and CRP Affordable Housing and Community Development, it will provide 69 very-low and extremely-low housing units.
The city is headed in the right direction, Gardiner added, because 2,677 units are already in its pipeline, with 853 already under construction.
Peninsula Wellness Community will provide 477 affordable housing units for seniors. It will be at 1783 El Camino Real and 1720 Marco Polo Way and is expected to be finished in 2026.
“There is a range of needs in the community and collectively we are trying to address them,” Gardiner said.
The city received 60 accessory dwelling unit applications and building permits were issued for 45 units, in 2022. The city is projecting 167 ADUs to be built over the next eight years, which the city included in the housing element.
“We took a relatively conservative approach with past trends and past approvals so we are not anticipating a significant increase in the number of ADUs,” Gardiner said.
Mayor Michael Brownrigg previously said his city has embraced and created housing at all income levels in its 6 square miles. The city is in the process of transforming a city-owned parking lot downtown into a five-story, 130-unit building, 60% for median income, Brownrigg said. The development is targeted for low-income seniors and working families and is set to open this summer, he said.
The city submitted its housing element Feb. 17 to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. It was due Jan. 31. The city anticipates a response from HCD sometime in May. Housing advocate group YIMBY Law sued the city the day after the housing element deadline because it was late. Ultimately, Brownrigg said the city has done all it can to invite housing and the city is open for business.
“We have rezoned, upzoned and made it clear we are welcoming redevelopment and housing,” Brownrigg said. “At this point, it’s in the state’s hands, if they want deeper affordability, it doesn’t matter what RHNA number they assign is, it won’t happen until they put money on the table so the developers can build it.”
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